20-year EU-Latin American banana war ends
The European Union and 10 Latin American countries signed an agreement to settle the longest-running series of disputes in the history of the multilateral trading system.
“This is a truly historic moment,” said World Trade Organization Director-General Pascal Lamy on Nov. 8. “After so many twists and turns, these complicated and politically contentious disputes can finally be put to bed. It has taken so long that quite a few people who worked on the cases, both in the secretariat and in member governments have retired long ago.”
Lamy distributed to the countries concerned legally certified copies of the EU’s revised commitments replacing, with tariffs only, a complicated and WTO-illegal banana import regime. These banana import tariffs decline annually to 114 euros per ton by Jan. 1, 2017. The European Union’s revised commitments include the 2009 Geneva Banana Agreement. The WTO is the depository of these revised commitments, which have now been accepted by the WTO’s membership.
The Latin American countries present for the agreement were Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Venezuela and Peru (which did not sign the mutually agreed solution because it was not directly involved in the disputes but participated in some key negotiations), the WTO said.
The Geneva Banana Agreement was agreed by the European Union, the Latin American countries and the United States in December 2009. Since then a number of legal steps were required, including each country ratifying the 2009 agreement and the European union introducing legislation and regulations to implement it. Having been accepted by the WTO’s membership as part the European Union’s new commitment, it is now multilateral.
The new EU commitments were circulated on July 27 as a revision to the European Union’s list of commitments. WTO members were then given three months under WTO regulations to object. Since there were no objections, the director-general certified the “schedule” at the end of October.
If there is no agreement on a framework deal in the Doha Round agriculture negotiations by Dec. 31, these annual tariff cuts for the remaining years can be delayed by up to two years, the European Union said.
The disputes date back to 1992 under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). They continued when the GATT became the WTO in 1995.
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